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I-69 connection staying put, even with higher costs

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Might higher-than-expected costs to build Interstate 69 to Evansville result in a new connecting point to Indianapolis?

That’s what some are wondering now that costs of the controversial project have risen to $3 billion from the $1.7 billion originally projected.

So far, the state is using what it calls “innovative” construction techniques on the southern stretch already under construction and for segments about to be started. These include narrower medians and thinner pavement, Gov. Mitch Daniels said earlier this month. Critics say this could lead to higher maintenance costs later.

The project has drawn strong opposition in places such as Bloomington, for the potential environmental effects, and among those living in Perry Township, in Marion County, where the highway is to tie into I-465 roughly at where State Road 37 now runs.

That’s unless, of course, the Indiana Department of Transportation were to look for a less-populated place to run the highway. Some have suggested moving it west, through less-populated Morgan County, to tie into Interstate 70 near Indianapolis International Airport.  That would potentially reduce land acquisition costs and other aggravations of needling an interstate through Indianapolis’ south side.

So far, at least, INDOT is sticking to its original plans.

A 2003 environmental impact statement established the route through Perry Township, said INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield.

“This alignment was subsequently approved by the Federal Highway Administration in a 2004 Record of Decision and withstood litigation in Federal District Court. INDOT has no plans at this time to reopen” the EIS or ROD, Wingfield said.

Although the stretch between Evansville and Bloomington could be completed as early as 2014, the Indianapolis end would likely be completed much later. The first two miles of I-69 have been completed at the southernmost end, at Interstate 64.

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  1. What became of this project? Anyone know?

  2. Scott, could you post an enlarged photo of the exterior of the building? This will be a great addition to Walnut Street. This area will only continue to develop with additions like this. Also, please give us more updates on the "Cultural Trail light" expansion. Also a great move for the city, as long as there is maintenance money set aside.

  3. Great story IBJ! Citizens don't have a real sense of the financial magnitude of supporting Indy's sports and tourism sector. The CIB was a brilliant idea for creating a highly integrated public-private partnership to support this sector from the economic activity it generates. Unfortunately, most folks think the benefits of that economic activity accrue directly to the City budget, and it doesn't. So though the CIB is facing lean times (covering its costs while maintaining minimally acceptable reserves), the City is operating with deficit - less tax revenue than expenses each year - with a very fragile reserve balance. That's why it's so challenging for the City to fund basic needs or new intitatives (e.g. pre-k education; new jail), and some credit rating agencies have downgraded Indy from it's past stellar AAA status. More reporting on City finances would be welcomed.

  4. Sure, I'll admit that it bugs me to see that the IBJ.COM censors it's blog posts almost as much as the D of I does when someone points out the falsehoods and fabrications. _____But I think it bothers me almost as much that Captain/Defender/Disciple get his yanked too. You see, those of us with a sense of integrity, humanity, compassion, and a need for fact based opinion WANT to see all of his screeds posted. It makes our point so much better than we can do it ourselves.

  5. We're conflating two very different topics. Voter fraud is a myth and excessive gun violence is all too real. I just hope rational gunowners decide to stop being shouted down by the, well, let's call them "less rational" ones.

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